Wednesday Night #1613

Written by  //  January 23, 2013  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1613


For those Wednesday Nighters who enjoy historical references, we did our homework and find a few events of interest in the year 1613 – exactly 400 years ago.
Our favorite entry is for Jan 28th Galileo may have unknowingly viewed undiscovered planet Neptune – not too sure of the significance of unknowingly viewing an undiscovered planet, however someone thought it important; or maybe happened on Jan 29th Galileo observes Neptune but fails to recognize what he sees …
Michail Romanov (16) becomes czar of Russia, the first of the Romanov dynasty, on Feb 21st
Mar 27th The first English child born in Canada at Cuper’s Cove, Newfoundland to Nicholas Guy (The date is significant as it coincides with David’s birthday)
Most important, on Jun 29th Shakespeare’s Globe Theater burns down.

A string of seemingly unrelated events – some are, some are not – has crowded the calendar since last Wednesday.

The World Economic Forum – Davos in shorthand – is over for another year and one wonders whether its mystique is wearing a little thin. The Economist offers a quite jaundiced view, noting the number of super stars who were not there (no Bill Clinton, gasp!), while Robert Travers forwards  this very short interview with Iceland’s President Olafur Ragnar Grimson  titled How Iceland Overthrew The Banks: The Only 3 Minutes Of Any Worth From Davos – For those who wish to read more about Davos, we have gathered a few opinions on World Economy 2013

The Economist noted the presence at Davos of 11-year-old Pakistani, Khadia Niatzi, who explained how Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), such as those provided by Udacity and Coursera, could usher in world peace. She had got her degree in physics through online learning. She is not alone in praising MOOC learning; Thomas Friedman is positively lyrical about its potential impact on the developing world. There are many fascinating ramifications to ponder – although such grand institutions as Harvard, MIT and Stanford have embraced the technology, what happens to the bricks and mortar of lesser institutions? Great teachers will be in high demand; but what about lesser lights? As to the socializing that (some/most?) university students treasure, according to the Friedman piece, a highly collegial atmosphere springs up among the denizens of the same online course and there is much praise for the multicultural input from the fellow students around the world. Is this the beginning of an entirely new way of thinking about post secondary education? Much is being written on the topic, and we might suggest Fred G. Martin: Will Massive Open Online Courses Change How We Teach? Particularly because of the thoughtful comment below the article. We might also conjecture how adoption of MOOC might affect the outcome(s) of the Quebec Post-Secondary Education Summit next month, not to mention the Quebec government’s relations with students, given Minister Pierre Duchesne’s latest pronouncements  Much food for thought and debate on a topic that is dear to the heart of many Wednesday Nighters. And, meanwhile, at least one person still believes in bricks and mortar: $1.1 Billion in Thanks From Bloomberg to Johns Hopkins
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is the most generous living donor to any education institution in the United States, according to university officials and philanthropic tallies.

On Sunday’s Meet the Press a roundtable of experts discussed the foreign affairs challenges facing the U.S., particularly in the Middle East. To our surprise, one of the problems that was ignored was the ferment in the China Seas. China is again stirring the pot – or more appropriately, the seas – with its aggressive stance on the ownership of islands (clusters of rocks) and therefore related exclusive economic zones. While Japan and the Philippines are the major targets, other Asian nations (e.g. Vietnam) have interests to defend and inevitably the U.S. would be drawn into any conflict on the side of its Philippine ally. You can find more on the China Seas here

Still on China, but a very different perspective: in China faces a neurotic future Reuven Brenner offers an entertaining and highly instructive commentary on the possible consequences of China’s one child policy, based on a still-valid article written ten years ago.

Water, like Education, has been an enduring topic throughout many years of Wednesday Nights. We therefore call to your attention to LAST CALL AT THE OASIS from the The Passionate Eye, which presents an inspiring wake-up call for why you should be worried, and why the global water crisis will be the central issue facing our world this century. Warning: You may never want to drink bottled water again.

Along with Education and Water, another pet topic is Media, so imagine our joy at the announcement that Conrad Black is to host his own weekly TV show – now that will certainly be entertaining (and probably infuriating). Unlike the targets (including Postmedia and the Globe & Mail) of Jonathan Sas’ disturbing recent article for The Tyee, Custom content, we can be assured that no topic on Conrad’s show will be directed or approved by anyone but Himself. We are told that Each episode will have Black interview “some of the world’s greats” and end with an editorial segment titled “Talk Black” where he gives his commentary on issues “that really get under his skin” like the U.S. justice system, ageism, gun control and the financial crisis.
Terence McKenna has been relentlessly pursuing the story of Dr. Arthur Porter and the fascinating result was broadcast in two parts (14 January and 28 January) on The National – unfortunately, we cannot provide the link to the second segment Porter’s Way at the time of writing; it contains lengthy comments by Dr. Nicolas Steinmetz.

One strand to follow is the relationship between Dr. Porter and Quebec Liberal Leadership candidate Philippe Couillard. The latter, of course, denies everything except that he might have been ‘taken in’ by the good doctor, which in fairness, many people were.

Paul Wells gives an informed outsider’s view of the three candidates for the Quebec Liberal Leadership in Liberals for breakfast: the men who would lead Quebec His conclusion is:
“I arrived thinking Couillard was the most, indeed probably the only, interesting candidate. I left with a lower opinion of him and a higher opinion of his opponents. And a sense of overriding strangeness: these three are comfortable with a more strongly federalist discourse than any Quebec Liberal leader in decades, yet none knows the rest of Canada well, and the rest of Canada knows them hardly at all.”

We will refrain from commenting on the outcome of the Ontario Liberals Leadership – it’s all been said by someone else complete with the requisite Wynne-win puns . But we would like to know if anyone has asked Stephen Harper how he feels about having all those women running the provinces? Not that it matters as he never meets the premiers anyway.

The Feds are back at work and First Nations dominate Question Period as Parliament resumes amid renewed Idle No More protests

Poor Montreal – another expensive construction accident – will it be linked somehow to the Charbonneau Inquiry? Where were you at the moment of the Great Flood? What an incredible sight for professional and amateur videographers as the water poured down Peel Street from Pine Avenue – seems a backhoe broke a water main and the result was an aquageddon for the heart of downtown Montreal, and of course at rush hour. The break was fixed by 10:30pm, but the clean-up before everything turns to ice is going to be a daunting task. What we want to know is where were our friends who are usually to be found Chez Alexandre and will we have another wonderfully entertaining account from Beryl?

Returning to the Education theme, but on a much lighter note is this from Salon: My fake college syllabus

As your professor, I plan to take your money, never read your essays and pretend you’re not checking Facebook
Course Description 
In this class, we will analyze some of World Literature’s greatest short novels in an attempt to interrogate the essence of plot and character while reading as few words as possible. Each class session will begin with a student presentation of 15 to 20 minutes, so we’re looking at an effective class time of about an hour. I’d love to give you a five-minute break halfway through the period, with the tacit understanding that we actually blow 15, but then I’d have to pretend I didn’t notice when 36% of you didn’t bother to come back. Or I’d have to pass around the attendance sheet again, which is a major pain in the ass.

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